Douglas Development presents concept for Squares 450/451

Paul Millstein of Douglas Development shared a concept his company has for Square 450 and 451 at this month’s MVSNA meeting. The Triangle had speculated about these squares in the past and it was good to hear plans straight from the developer.

RED=Square 450; BLUE=Square 451; ORANGE=Convention Center Hotel; GREEN=Old Convention Center

Douglas Development has spent 15-20 years in assemblage on these blocks. They presently feel they own or have under contract all the properties they are likely to be able to acquire. Because of this they are now ready to design their concept around those holdout properties.

Below are my long list of notes. Please remember all this is preliminary:

  • Plan is for high energy mix of retail and office
  • Seeking CLD to build mandated residential elsewhere in city
  • Shalom Baranes will be the architectural firm
  • All but 1 property on the 1000 block of 7th Street NW are owned or under contract
  • Plans are solely to restore these 7th Street NW properties rather than build over them (similar to DD’s past project on the 700 block)
  • On NY Avenue the plan is to move the DC Eagle building next to the Avenue/Lux building
  • Will not acquire Marrakesh or corner of 6th and L
  • Two office buildings with ground floor retail will occupy the remainder of the square 450
  • Square 450 office buildings will be roughly same height as the convention center and have windows on all four sides
  • Square 450 loading docks and other curb cuts will be on L Street
  • Douglas will relocate historic properties south on Square 451 to a cluster on K Street
  • Square 451 will have massive office building with ground floor retail
  • Plan to rebuild The Waffle Shop on K Street
  • Plan to embrace K Street’s wide sidewalks with retail and restaurant uses
  • Will not acquire the rowhouse at 628 New York Ave NW or the small parking lot on the SW corner of 6th and NY Ave
  • In discussion with an entertainment anchor that will have an entrance on 7th and NY Ave and below grade venue. Would not name the anchor but said “It will blow your mind.” Could it be HOB?

Douglas will spend the next year in the entitlements process including presenting this concept to HPRB in December. Another year after that would be spent filing more documents. Ground breaking would still be 2+ years out. You can then of course add another 2+ years for construction. They plan to continue dialect with the MVSNA and present at another meeting in the near future.

UPDATE (11/19/2008 2:00 pm): Cary Silverman’s blog has also posted on the presentation. Cary questions the lack of residential with mixed feelings.

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  1. 1

    si says

    nice rundown & you read my mind about HOB. that would make jackie C. so happy 😉 And it seems as though they intend to put whatever it is underground.

    i didnt see anything so far that would be especially contentious, its good that they want to keep the 24hr activity off of L street as there are apts right across the way there but it would be nice for them to strike a balance between 3am madness & a dead block. we have enough dead blocks in dc. I'm happy to hear Marrakesh & the Eritrean cultural center are likely staying around and im not surprised about 628 NY. I like K a lot. But i was surprised about the the Doctor's lots not being in play. guess we will have to work on him improving it beyond the flower box on the iron girder – a nice touch by K.

    i'm definitely excited to finally see movement on this project, its been many moons of vacant property. we cant stare at those broken windows for another 2 years, i hope they fix em in the interim. this is an easy way to build some goodwill.

  2. 2

    fourthandeye says

    @Si – yeah, I don’t think anything ambitious can be pulled off on L Street. Retail works better when it can be on both sides of a street segment. Plus, I don’t think this view is what retailers want across the street. Like Millstein said, if any retail could go on L street it would have to be service related. I don’t know that a dry cleaners that closes at 7pm will make much impact to promoting activity on the block. The only thing coming to mind might be a Kinkos that’s open late (provided there isn’t one already planned in or around the Convention Center).

  3. 3

    si says

    hmm not a dry cleaner or a copy shop, they are both around the corner up 7th…something though besides truck loading, garage entrances…view is not so bad. there are nice mature trees & UHOP dows a decent landscaping job usually.

  4. 4

    fourthandeye says

    The landscaping isn’t so bad. All those red fences around the terraces and Central air units really stick out to me though…

  5. 6

    SG says

    Whoops, that last one was me.

    By the way, the plans for the 450/451 sound fine, if not exciting. I’m sure Douglas will do a good job on it.

  6. 8

    Cary Silverman says

    We don’t need another copy center On L — We already have a Kinkos at 7th and Mass, Miller Copying on the 1000 Block of 7th, and a business center located across the street from Miller in the Convention Center.

    Something needs to be done with the 600 Block of L Street. The garage and warehouse-type historic buildings would seem ideal for residential — it reminds me of the 1400 Block of Church Street in Logan Circle where they built Rainbow Lofts in an old car repair shop.

    I wouldn’t want that block having nothing but a parking garage entrance and loading dock for the retail and offices that open onto NY Avenue.

  7. 9

    fourthandeye says

    @SG – I think the concept for 450/451 is exciting. I really like their preservation concepts. Douglas, while they notoriously take a while to fill retail with tenants, will incorporate significant space to retail, entertainment and restaurants.

    Everything is relative. What’s not exciting to me is the DuMont having a gigantic 550+ unit project, with extensive Mass Ave frontage, and only allocating one tiny corner of about 900sf to retail. If the DuMont had a greater commitment to retail that block could have been more lively and it would have benefited not only residents but the retailers who will one day occupy 455 Mass, 400 Mass and Mass Court.

  8. 10

    fourthandeye says

    @Si & Cary – When I suggested Kinkos I was just trying to think of a business that is open fairly late while still being quiet. Also a business that probably wouldn't care about being across from UHOP and next to loading docks. I don't think a fine dining restaurant or Apple store wants that location/view. But perhaps a small fast food place like Quiznos wouldn't care.

  9. 11

    Anonymous says

    Yes, I would be ecstatic if House of Blues moved to our neighborhood. I love that place. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! Jackie C

  10. 12

    si says

    you’re right on there :) hmm…it’ll be interesting to some up with things that would fit the bill. a good discussion…flower shop?

  11. 13

    fourthandeye says

    @Si – yeah, it’s hard to nail down the perfect fit. I tend to focus my suggestions on things that might stay open until 10pm. Shops that close at 6 or 7pm don’t have the activity when I think it’s most needed.

  12. 14

    RobA says

    I agree with 4th (and the others) that businesses need to be open past 7:00 pm if you want to bring any life onto that block. I’m not that concerned with the lack of residences in the proposal given that we will soon have more residential property in the area than we will need in the near term down New York Avenue. In addition to Yale II and the two Bozzutto buildings at the corner of 5th and New York, we will also have 1500+ units at the NW One development crossing all income levels. Let’s create more places for all those new residents to go to.